Here in Orange County we have fire ants. This information is from the Orange County Fire Ant Authority and is used by permission.
The Red Imported Fire Ant, Solenopsis invicta is the most recent of a growing number of pests introduced into Orange County. A native of South America, the Fire Ant was first introduced in the southeastern United States in 1930s. Since that time the ants have found their way across the south, and into Southern California.
RIFA "mounds" are very distinctive and easily recognized as a low mat of fine granular soil as much as 18 inches across. Fire Ants commonly settle in turf and frequent mowing keeps ants from forming the larger mounds typically found in the southeast.
The greatest threat posed by Fire Ants is their venomous stings. The ants can sting repeatedly which results in a burning, itching sensation that is followed by a raised pustule a few days later. The pustule can last for up to two weeks. RIFA venom is relatively toxic, and potentially lethal to pets, wildlife and sensitized humans. Because of the number and severity of stings delivered by this aggressive species, residents should be aware of the existence of this menace on their property and the potential hazards posed by accidental contact. Fire Ants are also damaging to landscape material as well as agricultural products. Electrical current is a strong attractant for Fire Ants so irrigation controllers, air conditioners and outdoor lighting are all at risk.
RIFA are small ants that display a wide range of sizes within a single colony. Individual ants can be from1/8 to ľ inch long. They have a shiny dark red head and thorax with a dark brown abdomen. They posses a pair of toothed mandibles to grasp the skin before they sting. Fire Ants have two nodes between the abdomen and thorax. The tip of the antennae is a two-segmented club.
The Orange County Fire Ant Authority (OCFAA) recommends that citizens leave RIFA colonies undisturbed. A call to the Hotline (1-888-4-FIREANT) will assure prompt, no-charge treatment, not just of the residentís home, but the entire neighborhood. Suspected infestations can also be reported on our website: www.ocfireant.com. Improper treatment can cause the infestation to spread and increase the effort required to achieve eradication.
The OCFAA uses two baits to eliminate Fire Ants; our first application is with a product containing hydramethylnon, a metabolic inhibitor that results in starvation of the colony. The OCFAA also uses an insect growth regulator, pyriproxyfen that sterilizes the queen, ending the reproduction and replacement of workers, until the colony slowly dies out completely. Both products are safe for humans, pets, and the environment. These products are slow acting, if ants are found indoors or if for some reason citizens are unable to wait several days for results, they should call a licensed pest control operator. Keep in mind a fast acting treatment will likely prolong the infestation in exchange for temporary quick results. In the event a pest control operator is called the OCFAA should still be notified so the surrounding area can be treated to avoid re-infestation.
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